The Washington Redskins: one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. Winners of three Super Bowls and the first NFL team to have its own band and fight song.
But an ongoing controversy has plagued the Hogs (as they are sometimes referred to). The name Redskins is considered to be offensive by some (despite having the name since the 1930s, not to mention the fact that most people are fine with the name).
Such controversy began in 1988 (after the Redskins won Super Bowl XXII) but soon faded away, only to resurface during the 1991 season (in which various professional and college teams, e.g. Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles were also targeted). The name controversy would continue throughout the 1990s, but eventually died down (but not completely).
Now the name controversy has again resurfaced. In the past decade or so, various high schools and colleges with American Indian nicknames have either changed their names or faced some restrictions (e.g. the NCAA putting pressure on the University of Illinois on using its nickname- Fighting Illini- in 2005). Then last year, the Washington Redskins were again targeted. It began with an attempt in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to void any trademark registrations using any names which could be offensive to American Indians. Such legislation stalled in the House, and appears to be dead. Meanwhile, the FCC was contacted in an attempt to persuade it to prohibit the use of the term “redskin” in media broadcasts, but it is unlikely that any such action will take place.
Several state and local governments have taken a position on the matter (some support a name change, others oppose it).
Of course, the issue has gotten the attention of the White House, and (not surprisingly) Obama favors a name change. Bob Costas (the self-appointed political spokesperson for NBC Sports) also believes the Redskins should change their name.
However, in this age of increasing political correctness (which appears to be the reason why this issue just came out of the blue) a majority of Americans are opposed to name changes. But this poll hasn’t stopped the name-change advocates. In fact, now Harry Reid (along with his fellow Democrats in the Senate) is up to his usual arm-twisting tactics by sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging him to force a name change. Reid even went so far as to compare the name change controversy to the remarks made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a month ago, even though there is no comparison between the two issues.
It is unlikely Goodell will comply with Reid’s strong-arming.
And that is the point of this entire matter. Why is the government (whether it be federal, state, or local) getting involved when it comes to the names of sports teams? With all the problems our nation faces, one would presume our leaders should be more focused on them instead of what name a sports team (which is a private entity)chooses. Unfortunately, our officials have decided to get involved in the matter. Thus, it seems that whenever someone is offended by something, he or she decides to contact Obama or any of his cronies.
In this case, they have not succeeded.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/3866149769/